Campbell a shooting star for HV

By Jeff Birchfield

   As the classic rock song blares, "Don't you know you are a shooting star?" it might remind Happy Valley basketball fans of senior leader Chris Campbell.
   Hitting 46 percent of shots behind the three-point line for the past two seasons, Campbell is the top threat for the Warrior offense.
   "It just takes a lot of practice," said Campbell in describing his secret for success. "I work early, going in before games and before practice. Coach (Charlie) Bayless lets us get the keys to the gym on weekends to go in there and shoot and get better."
   Despite extra attention from other teams he has received after being the Watauga Conference's leading scorer last year at 17 points per game, Campbell has still managed to score 16 ppg. this season.
   "It's a lot tougher than last year," admitted Campbell. "Most teams have been running a box and one and I've been getting double-teamed and triple-teamed. Everytime I touch the ball, there are two people on me."
   Chris is the son of Mitchell Campbell and his mother's name is Becky. His older brother, also named Mitchell, was also a key player for the Warriors. The brothers formed a dynamic duo on last season's HV team.
   "Mitch averaged enough points that it took some pressure off Chris," said Coach Bayless. "Now, I told him the first of this year that he would have a hard time. Other teams double-team him, they play a box and one, they try to frustrate him.
   "If I was coaching the other team when we played Happy Valley, I put a man on him all the time. He does pretty good getting shots off. He shoots pretty good with all the people on him. Chris is the best three-point shooter we've had in awhile."
   Bayless also stated that Campbell's perimeter game reminded him a lot of former Warrior greats Teddy Wayne McKinney and Larry Campbell. Chris has proven to be a versatile player, able to alternate between the two guard and small forward positions.
   Away from the court, he attends church at University Parkway Baptist Church in Johnson City. As a student on Warrior Hill, Chris lists his favorite classes as history and welding.
   A natural athlete, Campbell came out for football this past season, although he hadn't played since middle school. Some of the other players on that squad included current basketball teammates Tim Whaley, Lamar Rollins, Andy Hilton, Jason Tittle and Cody Cannon. It's a decision, Chris is glad he made.
   "I loved playing football," said Campbell. "I regret now not playing my freshman, sophomore and junior years. I had to learn the plays real quick. I had to work a lot after practice with Coach (Stan) Ogg."
   The extra efforts were soon rewarded. Just like on the court, Campbell became one of the most explosive parts of the Warrior offense, earning all-conference honors at wide receiver.
   As the favorite target of quarterback Rollins, Chris caught 31 passes for 430 yards and five touchdowns. The biggest night was a six-catch, 114-yard performance against Gatlinburg-Pittman. His play forced teams to respect the deep ball and helped Happy Valley return to the TSSAA state playoffs in 2001.
   "Coach wanted me to work on the deep plays," said Campbell. "To learn to jump over the shorter defensive players. It took Lamar and me about two weeks after our last scrimmage against Greeneville to get our timing down. It paid off. I had two back-to-back 70-yard catches on Friday nights against Rockwood and Gatlinburg."
   On the basketball court, his skills are unquestioned. So is his work ethic. Campbell has improved his free throw shooting from 70 percent last year up to 78 percent this season.
   "I'm always working at it," remarked Campbell. "When coach gives us water breaks, I go and shoot 10 to 15 free throws while I'm tired. I believe in practicing at shooting the ball. There's a lot of hard work and dedication to it."
   His veteran coach thinks Campbell has the skills needed to play at the next level.
   "Chris has gotten a lot larger," said Bayless. "He's about 6-2 now. He was only about 5-10 as a freshman. He's put on some more weight. He's got a lot stronger.
   "I say he could play ball for a small college and do well. It's different playing college. You might be a hot rod in high school and you get in college and play against guys as good as you are or better. You have to play a lot harder, but Chris plays hard. He practices hard, he's a good practice player. If you practice hard, generally you play hard in the ballgames."
   Campbell hopes such an opportunity awaits. If it doesn't, he would like to go on to trade school and perfect the welding skills that he so much enjoys.
   For the present, the remainder of the basketball season, Chris Campbell can enjoy the rest of his final high school games content in knowing he's a Warrior shooting star.